Lose the Customer’s Confidence and You Lose the Customer
My wife and I were on the phone with our bank. They take care of our checking accounts and credit cards for our entire family, and we were having a problem transferring money from one account to another.
The frustration began with fifteen minutes of hold time. Once the customer service representative came on the call, Cindy briefly described the problem. The rep asked a number of security questions, which included her full name, address, where she was born, mother’s maiden name, social security number and driver’s license number. While more than the usual questions, I understand they are for our protection. That said, the entire interaction, including fifteen minutes spent on hold waiting for the rep, was now approaching twenty minutes and thus far nothing had been resolved.
At the end of the “interrogation,” the bank’s rep said he didn’t have what he needed to verify Cindy’s identity, and he was transferring her to another rep. What do you think happened when the new customer service rep came on? She asked the same questions.
It’s now been almost 30 minutes and the reason for the call has not yet been addressed. We asked to speak to a supervisor. After a few more minutes on hold another agent picked up. Calm, cool and definitely more knowledgeable than the last two support reps, he resolved the problem … in under six minutes. He was able to take a look at several of our accounts and discovered why we were having our problem, and he fixed it.
So, let’s look at the numbers. Total time on the phone was 47 minutes. Total time to get to a person that was capable of resolving the problem was 41 minutes. And, I’ll categorize that 41 minutes as a waste of time, never to be recaptured. 41 minutes of our life gone due to long hold times and two customer service reps who were not properly trained or had not been empowered with the authority to get the job done.
So, what was the cost to the bank? I’m not sure what they pay their people, but there was wasted payroll when the first two support reps couldn’t answer my question. But what is the big cost? Shattered customer confidence.
Even though our last customer service rep got the job done, the other two couldn’t. 87% of the interaction was on hold or talking to people who couldn’t help us, which made us frustrated, if not downright angry at the bank. After the call, we had a short conversation about switching banks. We chose to give them one more chance, but will a similar experience in the future push us to find a new bank? How many positive interactions will we need to have to forget this debacle and have our confidence in the bank’s customer service restored to normal?
In today’s competitive business environment, a company can’t afford to lose a customer’s confidence. Maybe the customer will give the company a second, or even a third chance. A bank is “sticky,” meaning it’s not easy to close an account at one bank and open a new one at another. It takes time and effort. It’s not like deciding to buy shoes at a different department store. Every employee who comes into contact with a customer must recognize that in addition to the job they were hired to do, they are also there to create confidence. Here’s the bottom line: Lose the customer’s confidence, and you will lose the customer.
Retirement Planning Has Its Limits: How to Prepare
Retirement planning is one of the issues that commonly leads clients to consult financial advisers. One of its essential aspects is creating a plan to save and invest in order to provide a comfortable retirement income. Ideally, this starts many years ahead of retirement, even as early as your first paycheck.
As retirement comes closer, planning for it expands to take in a host of other considerations, such as deciding when to retire, where to live, and what kind of lifestyle you hope to have. When retirement becomes a reality, the focus shifts to carrying out the plan.
All of this planning is crucial. Yet, for both financial advisers and clients, it's good to keep in mind that planning has its limits. In the post-retirement years, it may be helpful to think in terms of preparing for old age rather than planning for it.
The older we get, the more important this distinction between planning and preparing becomes. Too many life-changing things can happen without regard to our best-laid plans. Often they occur unexpectedly, resulting in emergency situations where urgent decisions have to be made. A stroke or a fall, a diagnosis of terminal illness, a broken hip that leaves someone unable to go back to independent living—and suddenly, right now, the family needs to find an assisted living facility, arrange for live-in help, or sell a home.
What are some of the ways to prepare for these contingencies?
- Explore housing options well ahead of time. Find out what assisted living, home care, and nursing home services and facilities are available where you live and whether they have waiting lists. Have family conversations about possibilities like relocating or sharing households.
- Research the financial side of these options. Investigate the cost of hiring help at home, assisted living facilities, and nursing care centers. Find out what is and is not covered by Medicare and long-term care insurance. For example, people are sometimes surprised to learn that Medicare does not pay for nursing home care other than short-term medical stays.
- Designate someone to take over decision-making, and do the paperwork. Execute documents like a living will, medical power of attorney, and contingent power of attorney. Update them as necessary, and give copies to your doctors, your financial planner, and appropriate family members.
- Start relatively early to downsize. Well before you're ready to let go of possessions or move into smaller housing, start considering what to do with your "stuff." Focus on the decisions rather than the distribution. There's no need to get rid of possessions prematurely, but decide what you want to do with them—and put in writing. Do this while it's still your choice, rather than something your family members do while you're in the hospital or nursing home
- Do your best to practice flexibility and acceptance. No matter how strongly you want to live in your own home until the end of your life, for example, it may not be possible. The physical limitations of aging can limit our choices, and even the best options available may not be what we would like them to be. It is a profound gift to yourself and your family members to accept these realities with as much grace as you can muster.
Finally, please don't underestimate the importance of planning financially for retirement. Because the bottom line is that you can't plan for all the things that might happen as you age, but you can prepare to deal with them. One of the most useful tools to cope with those contingencies is having enough money.
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